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September 12, 1884.]
Mr. Pourtales' first dredgings, were written under
very considerable difficulties, as 1 well remember
hearing from the author himself. But the ' priority
in scientific research,' which Mr. Rathbun claims for
Pourtales' work, had been accorded to it four years
previously, at the earliest possible opportunity, in
the Proceedings of the Royal society. So far as I
know, this honor has never been 'denied' to one
who would have been the last to claim it for himself.
I fully admit, however, that the date of his earlier
work has been incorrectly given in certain popular
accounts of the subject; but this was done acci-
dentally, and without the slightest intention of
appropriating any credit for the work of British
naturalists which was justly due elsewhere, as will
be evident from what I have said already.
P. Herbert Carpenter.
Eton college, "Windsor, Eng.,
The ' bassaliau fauna ; '
I notice that Mr. Gill has " recently proposed the
name 'bassalian realm' for the collective deep-sea
faunas." I do not know whether it is proposed to
define this name more strictly by assigning to it any
particular bathymetrical limits ; but it may be well to
notice, that, in his presidential address to the biologi-
cal section of the British association at Plymouth in
1877, Mr. Gwyn Jeffreys suggested the use of the
name "'benthal' (from the Homeric word pevdog,
signifying the depths of the sea) for depths of one
thousand fathoms and more," while retaining the
term ' abyssal ' for depths down to one thousand
There is another point to which I have long thought
of directing the attention of the readers of Science,
and I therefore take this opportunity of doing so.
The surveys of Hay den, Wheeler, and others, in
Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, have revealed the very
wide distribution, in beds of Jurassic age, of a cri-
noid which has been called Pentacrinus asteriscus.
Nothing is known of this form but a number of
stem- joints (I speak under correction, and shall be
pleased to hear that I am wrong); but most of the
figures of these joints which I have seen (e.g., that
given by White in the paleontology of Wheeler's sur-
vey) seem to me to indicate that the type should be
referred to Extracrinus rather than to Pentacrinus.
The essential characters of the stem-joints of Extra-
crinus are well shown in plate liii. of Buckland's
' Geology and mineralogy,' figs. 9-13 ; on tab. 101 of
Quenstedt's 'Encriniden,' especially figs. 24, 27, 33,
and 37; and also on plate xii. of the Austins' ' Mono-
graph of recent and fossil crinoids.' The five in-
terradial petals are quite narrow, and much less
distinctly oval than in Pentacrinus, sometimes be-
coming almost linear, with rounded outer ends. The
interpetaloid spaces are plain, and devoid of sculp-
ture ; while the markings at the sides of the petals
are much more delicate than in Pentacrinus, having
more the character of striae or crenulation than of
coarse ridges. They are also much more numerous
than in Pentacrinus, and are limited to the sides of
the petals, not reaching the outer edge of the joint-
face. Under these circumstances, I suspect that it
is to Extracrinus, and not to Pentacrinus, that we
must refer the joints which were described by Meek
and Hayden as having lance, oval, petaloid areas,
"bounded by rather narrow, slightly elevated, trans-
versely crenulate margins."
Extracrinus was proposed by the Austins for the
two well-known liassic fossils, Pentacrinus briareus
and P. subangnlaris ; but recent investigations have
shown that the genus extends up into the great
oolite (Bathonien) of Britain, France, and Switzer-
land. I have no knowledge, however, of any triassic
species of Extracrinus; though Pentacrinus is well
represented in the St. Cassian beds, and has been
found associated with Encrinus in the 'wellenkalk'
It is therefore interesting to find that the triassic
form of Pentacrinus asteriscus, which was obtained
by the fortieth parallel survey from the Dun Glen
limestone and the Pah Ute range, differs from the
Jurassic specimens found in south-east Idaho and
western Wyoming, almost precisely in those points
which distinguish Pentacrinus from Extracrinus.
According to Hall and Whitfield, the chief distinc-
tion of the triassic forms lies "in the more obtuse
points of the star, and the filling-up of the angles
between the points, and also in the broader form of
the elliptical figures on the articulating surfaces of the
disks." They suggest that the differences may pos-
sibly be of specific value; but, having carefully
studied a large variety of stem-joints of Penta-
crinidae, both recent and fossil, I am inclined to go
farther, and to suspect that the triassic type may be-
long to Pentacrinus, but the Jurassic form to Extra-
The two genera differ very considerably in the char-
acters of the calyx and arms, as will be fully ex-
plained in the report on the Pentacrinidae dredged
by the Challenger and the Blake, which will appear
in the course of the winter. But, in the mean time, I
shall be most grateful for any information respecting
Pentacrinus asteriscus, in addition to that which has
been already made public; and I need not say that I
should much like to have the opportunity of making
a personal examination, both of the triassic and the
Jurassic specimens. P. Herbert Oabpentee.
Eton college, Windsor, Eng.,
Points on lightning-rods.
The following passage occurs in J. E. H. Gordon's
excellent " Physical treatise on electricity and mag-
netism," vol. i. p. 24: "It was held that the knobs
[on the ends of ligbtning-rodsj must be most effica-
cious, because the lightning was seen to strike them,
and never struck the points. The fact that a point
prevents the lightning from ever striking at all was
This is not true. The highest rod on my house is
some fifteen feet above the others, and about thirty
feet higher than the surrounding buildings; and yet,
notwithstanding the fact that it is tipped with a
brush of five points, it was struck a few years ago.
The points are gilded iron, and the topmost one was
melted into a ball about one-eighth of an inch in
diameter. The rods are all connected by horizontal
pieces held about three inches from the tin roof by
glass insulators, after the fashion of ignorant light-
ning-rod agents. The neighbors say that the sparks
flew so thickly between the rods and the roof, as to
resemble a sheet of flame. The shock was, singularly
enough, so slight that it is doubtful whether it was
due to the electrical discharge, or the deafening crash
of thunder that instantly followed the splitting sound
of the spark. A. B. Porter.
Indianapolis, Aug. 23.
Photographs of the interior of a coal-mine.
One of the most interesting enterprises to which
the preparations for the New Orleans exposition have